DCW Volume 1 Issue 13 – DH Syllabus Roundup & Going for the Gold (OA)

by Korey Jackson on August 31, 2012

Digital Humanities Syllabi – Fall 2012 Edition
Roger Whitson

As we get into the start of the Fall 2012 school year, I wanted to highlight a few interesting syllabi that are freely available online and that do some interesting things for digital media and the digital humanities.

Kristin Arola, English 591: Teaching with Technology – Kristin is one of my new colleagues at Washington State University and currently serves as the head of WSU’s Digital Technology and Culture program. Her course investigates “why (and sometimes why not) to interrogate computer technology into writing-intensive classrooms while interrogating the material and cultural components of a digital pedagogy.” One of the strengths of Kristin’s syllabus is that it incorporates both more traditional readings in digital media (Bolter and Grusin’s Remediation) with recent interventions into composition theory using digital media and multimodality (Shipka’s Toward a Composition Made Whole).

Alexis Lothian,  English 121: Literature, Technology, and Society – Lothian is a new member of the faculty at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and works on the intersection between fan culture and digital media. Her section of 121 is provocatively entitled “Rage Against the Machine,” which focuses on how culture depicts our connection to (and separation from) machines. “Do we use our machines,” Lothian asks her students, “or do our machines use us?” Readings focus specifically on science fiction classics like Mary Shelley Frankenstein and more recent speculative fiction like Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.

Andrew Famiglietti, Emerging Media and Communication 6381: The Hacker in History, Theory, and Practice – Andy works in the EMAC program at the UT Dallas and writes frequently about the politics of Wikipedia. His course on the Hacker not only investigates cultural representations of the figure in films like Sneakers and War Games, but Andy also encourages his students to use Arduino: a platform that teaches people how to build a rudimentary form of artificial intelligence. Andy’s course thus combines some of the best critical reflection on technology with hands-on training that is becoming the hallmark of work emerging in the digital humanities.

Shannon Mattern, New Media and Digital Studies 5278: Archives, Libraries and Databases – Mattern focuses on the intersections between architecture and digital culture, and her course on the history of the “logics, priorities, politics, audiences, contexts, aesthetics, physical forms, etc” of the collection and organization of information emphasizes a connection between theoretical reflection and creative production. From Clay Shirky’s provocative claim that “it isn’t information overload, it’s filter failure” to David Bell’s reflections on “The Bookless Library,” Mattern gives her students plenty of opportunities to explore how libraries are enmeshed in a larger conversation regarding the circulation of knowledge.

Funding Gold OA
Zach Coble

I’ve been thinking a lot about Open Access (OA) lately, specifically how the OA movement can find sustainable models for moving forward. Gold OA has been receiving a lot of attention as research funders answer calls make publicly funded research freely available to end users. However, transitioning to Gold OA creates a barrier for researchers without public or any funding.

Some universities, such as the COPE signatories, have created funds to help authors pay fees associated with publishing in OA journals. However, many of these are funded through special initiatives and wouldn’t be cost efficient if Gold OA does in fact see a significant uptake. Since one assumption of the Gold OA model is that library subscription costs will decrease proportionally as uptake of Gold increases, one option for institutional funding is to gradually transfer funds from library subscription budgets to some sort of institutional publication fund.

I’m surprised that I have not yet come across any articles or reports that take up the idea. Although risky because it would paradoxically result in a temporary period of reduced access as some resources are cut, it seems like an (almost painfully) efficient way to transition from a reader pays (i.e. library) to author pays model. Because the transition to OA has moved at a slow pace, it would make sense to incrementally shift funds as necessary to prevent unneeded disruptions in access.

Do you know of any resources that discuss shifting library subscription budgets to fund OA publishing costs? Is this idea completely crazy or just crazy enough to work?

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